MANKATO, Minn. (KMSP) - Surveillance video caught a man vandalizing a sign outside the Islamic Center in downtown Mankato, Minn. Sunday.
The damage to the sign at the Mankato Islamic Center has since been reporter, but the mosque members are not as concerned about the damage as they are about the motivation behind it.
The security camera caught a shirtless man strolling down the sidewalk around 1 p.m. with a replacement sign underneath his arm. The sign he put up, which reads “office and storage space available, now sits in the Islamic Center office.
Board member Abdi Sabrie hopes the vandal, who tried and failed to fully remove the center's sign before putting up the replacement sign is simply a vandal, and not a threat.
“I'm comfortable with that, but there [are] always other possibilities,” Sabrie said. “We had 60 to 70 children who were studying here when he was doing that.”
Sabrie says Mankato has been very welcoming to the Islamic community. But since the center opened a couple of years ago, there have been a handful of problems -- a rock thrown through a door and a couple break-ins, which led them to install the security cameras.
Last year, someone tore down part of the sign in the middle of the night.
In the past couple years, amidst more heated rhetoric about Islam, Sabrie says other churches in Mankato have reached out to the Islamic Center, and if this man is caught they'd reach out to him too.
“We would invite him; this is a collective feeling in our community. We would invite him to our center and to our community, to get to know us [and] maybe work with us for a couple of weeks,” Sabrie said.
Anyone with information on the vandalism or the suspect is asked to call the Mankato Police Department.